Random Thoughts on the Past Week in WWE:
- John Cena–I’m excited to see John Cena on SmackDown in 2 weeks. I have no idea who he will be involved with in the upcoming Wrestlemania show, but Wrestle News is reporting that Cena’s opponent will be Elias. My initial reaction is meh. I happen to like Elias and he has been working as a face since his return from injury. But to put him in a program with Cena would require turning him heel again. A better solution, if WWE is intent on promoting Elias, is to have Cena and Elias compete as tag team partners. As for who their opponents might be, I”m thinking outside the box. How about AOP? It wouldn’t take much to set up AOP as going into business for themselves given their only role with Rollins is as hired muscle. If done correctly, both AOP and Elias get the rub from working with Cena.
- Matt has gotten a lot of props for his performance this past Monday night on Raw. Hardy is still one heck of a performer even if he isn’t what he was a decade ago. It’s been reported that Hardy’s contract is expiring in the next few weeks. No one would blame him if he takes his talents to AEW, ROH, etc. If Hardy stays with WWE I’m not interested in watching Hardy job to up and coming talent or get seriously injured performing an in-ring move that backfires because his skills have diminished. Watching talent that continues to seek a stage for their performance when they are well past their prime is sad. I’m not saying Matt Hardy is at that point, but at age 45 he’s getting close.
- We have now gone from a lesbian angle on Raw (Lana & Liv Morgan) to one featuring cannibalism. Who’s up for this story-line? Post bite, Baszler looked like a kid who just finished a glass of milk with Strawberry Quick. Between the story-line and the props, color me unimpressed. This feels like a jump the shark moment. Are the WWE writers so lazy, so out of ideas that they can’t come up with something more compelling to kick off a program between Baszler and The Man? Baszler’s promotion to the main roster has the feel of Brock Lesnar’s return to the WWE in 2012. I hope WWE isn’t modeling Baszler after Lesnar. The idea of an unbeatable heel on the Women’s side doesn’t interest me at all. Especially given some of the top tier talent already on Raw and SmackDown.
- Where is Sasha Banks? She’s certainly on Twitter if not on WWE programming. We have heard rumors about an ankle injury, but no one has any idea of whether this is real or storyline related. Candidly, I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that keeping Banks off TV is part of a plan to pit Banks vs Bailey at Wrestlemania. If Banks is off TV through the end of February it will only increase speculation as to whether she will have a role at Wrestlemania. It’s moments like these with Banks where WWE is at their worst. I think WWE does many things well, and I hope to cover them in the near future, but being honest with their audience, in the era of reality TV is not a strength of WWE.
- Hulk Hogan–Am I the only person who thinks it’s sad to see the likes of Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan using the same tired act and saying the same words 30 years after they were in their prime? I love both these guys and genuinely care about them both as performers and people. But there comes a point in time to lift the facade and be who you are. Once Bruno Sammartino hung up his boots he dialed back on the intensity and came across in a more personable manner. I hope we can see the same from Hogan and Flair. They should be ambassadors for WWE and not anything less than that.
- Naomi–Prior to Naomi’s return I barely knew she was gone. This isn’t meant to disparage her ring talent or presence, but WWE does an awful job of keeping mid-card talent engaged in storylines. When WWE works they build toward feuds that have some realistic connection to what we have previously seen on WWE programming. Naomi has now arrived back on the scene after a 6 month (?) hiatus due to reasons. Her justification for jumping to the head of the class on SmackDown is that Bayley has never defeated her. Really? Given the team of writers SmackDown has at their disposal this was the best they could do? I am not feeling the glow.
- Fiend–Part of my duties at PSE in my role as a staff writer is to engage in a group chat with other PSE writers & editors who cover WWE. There’s always a lot going on with my colleagues, all of whom manage their professional career’s by day along with finding time to write for PSE. This week we had some engagement of how the Fiend may lose his title. Personally, I feel the character is one-dimensional and will dim over time, similar to the original Bray Wyatt character. Other’s think The Fiend is a generational character. In my mind, unless WWE does something to build The Fiend’s backstory, he will be challenged to maintain the momentum that has been built over the last few months. Consider what happens once The Fiend loses a match by pin-fall. Where does WWE go with the character once that happens? Some have speculated The Fiend works better as an attraction (think Andre the Giant) rather than as Universal Champion. I need to think on that.
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
- If anyone from WWE is paying attention to my work (Vince McMahon, please send me your current email address) please give us more Alexa Bliss. She is one of the rare performers who is great in the ring and equally talented on the microphone. Watching Nikki Cross’s non-verbal affectations when paired with Bliss is also a joy. WWE needs to keep these 2 women together for a while rather than pursue the inevitable route of having them feud. A program between these 2 superstars really doesn’t move the dial. The results would be predictable. No way Bliss would lose in a feud with Cross. So why sacrifice something that’s really good for a story-line that won’t generate any buzz or heat.
Rollins & AOP
- Am I the only person watching WWE wondering if AOP is going to be anything more than bodyguards for Rollins? AOP has clearly moved down the pecking order since Buddy Murphy joined the faction. How long before AOP, who come across only as silent muscle push back on Rollins? I have a sneaking suspicion Rollins and Murphy are going to end up in a program with AOP.
- Erik Rowan–Why does anyone even care? There have been some bad storylines through the years, but this is one of the worst. Other than Rowan’s family, no one cares. There have been rumors about the creature in Rowan’s cage being a large spider of some species. Someone on the writing team on Raw should spend a few moments to research how Jake “The Snake” Roberts was introduced back in the day. The Rowan push has been awful. My take isn’t about Rowan as a wrestler. Rather even after having him work recently with Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt back in the day, there is no indication the WWE Universe is even mildly interested.
- Who doesn’t love Otis? He has the look, personality move-set and charisma for a long run in WWE. WWE always has a swerve up their sleeve when either a wedding, dinner or celebration is planned. We saw this recently during the Lana-Rusev-Lashly program. But I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around a program between Otis and Dolph Ziggler. I don’t see where this is leading other than a match between Heavy Machinery vs Roode & Ziggler. The build-up between Mandy & Otis took weeks. I have no sense where this is going.
Thank you for taking the time to read. Please hit me up on twitter or in the comment section.